If anything, the opportunity to stand up and say he is not interested in reopening the abortion issue may even help dispel fears that Harper possesses a “hidden agenda.” At the same time, allowing MPs to speak to these issues and propose initiatives could act as a release valve on pressure building within caucus or the party. Yaroslav Baran, a former Conservative strategist, recalls being asked about controlling MPs after a series of “off message” comments during the 2004 campaign. The answer, he said, was not to get better at silencing backbenchers. “It’s to get to the point,” he said, “where it doesn’t matter, in a political liability sense, what a backbencher thinks on an individual matter of social policy because the press gallery and the public understand the agenda comes from Harper. And this isn’t his agenda.” For the sake of comparison, consider that previous Liberal governments had pro-life and socially conservative MPs within their caucuses without being defined by them.